The Santa Cruz 5010 has long had a reputation for being a playful, agile jibbing machine. However, the latest rendition of the 5010 has moved the focus to trail riding and should be the ideal rig for local trails with its revised geometry, practical Glovebox and bigger 29” front wheel. But does this make it the bike of choice for the masses?
This year alone, the good folks at Santa Cruz have performed more facelifts on their MTB portfolio than Kim Kardashian’s cosmetic surgeon in a decade. Now the Californians have unveiled the fifth generation of their popular trail bruiser, the 5010, which is also the fifth new bike they’ve presented this year. Just like Kim’s B-side, the new 5010 has undergone several changes and drifts into the new season with a revised geometry, mullet wheel setup and many practical frame features. These include a new storage compartment integrated into the down tube and a peephole in the seat tube that makes it easier to read the sag on the shock. The engineers also replaced the smaller 27.5″ front wheel of the 5010’s predecessor with a bigger 29” wagon wheel, thus announcing the end of the 27.5” era at Santa Cruz – except for the small wheel size options on their DH bikes.
With the bigger front wheel, the 5010 should be able to emancipate itself from its reputation as a jib bike and focus on singletrack and flow-trail riding instead. This should make it the weapon of choice for your average home trail and prevent you from schlepping around too much travel you don’t need, whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned trail bum. Talking of travel, this has remained unchanged on the new 5010, which still rocks 140/130 mm travel, at the front and rear, respectively. Prices for the new Santa Cruz 5010 MX 2023 range between € 5,399 and € 10,999.
The frame details of the new Santa Cruz 5010 CC X01 AXS RSV MX 2023
In typical Santa Cruz fashion, the new 5010 MX frame impresses with high quality workmanship, standing out from the crowd of trail bikes with its distinctive look. Although innovation ain’t cheap at Santa Cruz, the Californians integrate many practical features into the new 5010, both to protect the frame against impacts and to ensure a quiet ride.
A generously-sized shuttle guard and a TPU protector on the down tube shield the frame from stray rocks while a small fender on the seat stays helps protect the shock from muck and water. At the rear, a big seat and chainstay protector prevents chainslap and paint chips. The cables are neatly routed inside the frame and securely clamped at the ports, thus ensuring an elegant look and quiet ride.
Under the bottle cage hides Santa Cruz’s proprietary Glovebox storage compartment, which is secured with a smart lever-actuated locking system. This is intuitive and easy to use even with gloves and holds the flap securely in place, preventing it from moving even with a full water bottle in the cage. The compartment comes standard with two pouches that can be used to stow away trail essentials such as a spare inner tube, a pump, tools and snacks. There’s even a waterproof compartment for cash and other hydrophobic objects. However, with huge amounts of water, the neoprene fabric still tends to get damp, which is why we recommend removing all valuables before washing your bike. A small partition in the downtube located roughly at the height of the shock mount prevents the contents from slipping into the depths of the frame – awesome!
All prices and spec variants of the new Santa Cruz 5010 2023
The new Santa Cruz 5010 MX 2023 is available in six different versions and two colours. All models come with a carbon frame, whereby four versions feature the cheaper C frame and two come with Santa Cruz’s high-end CC frame. The difference: high-end CC frames rely on a larger proportion of higher strength fibres, allowing Santa Cruz to achieve the same degree of stiffness at a lower weight. With some of the models you can also upgrade the wheels to Santa Cruz’s in-house Reserve carbon wheelset. Prices for the C models range from € 5,399 to € 9,099 while the CC variants retail between € 8,899 and € 10,999.
The spec of our Santa Cruz 5010 CC X01 AXS RSV MX 2023 test bike
Unlike many Santa Cruz models, the new 5010 CC X01 AXS RSV MX 2023 doesn’t combine suspension components from different manufacturers. Instead, it relies on a full RockShox setup consisting of a Pike Ultimate fork with the new Charger 3 damper and a matching Super Deluxe Ultimate air shock. The latter features a climb switch and hydraulic bottom out control. Moreover, a brand new hole in the seat tube makes it easier to read the SAG on the shock.
Like the Sherlocks among our readers might have guessed, the 5010 features a wireless 12-speed SRAM X01 AXS rear derailleur. This is paired with a SRAM GX AXS paddle shifter, which might be cheaper but doesn’t affect the shifting performance on the trail. However, what really has a negative impact on trail performance are the stock SRAM G2 RSC four-piston brakes, which feature tool-free lever reach and bite point adjustments and SRAM’s proprietary SwingLink for improved modulation, but aren’t powerful enough for a trail bike. Unless you want to clinch a tree to come to a halt, we recommend upgrading to more powerful brakes. SRAM’s G2 stoppers are paired with a 200 mm rotor at the front and smaller 180 mm disc at the rear, which should be enough for most riders on tame home trails. However, if you hang out on challenging trails with long descents on a regular basis and need more power and better modulation, we recommend upgrading to a bigger rear rotor.
The hydraulic RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper offers 175 mm travel and ensures sufficient freedom of movement downhill. Although the hydraulic actuation makes it slightly harder to service than a cable-actuated dropper, it offers butter smooth action and can be inserted all the way into the frame. Just like the AXS paddle shifter, the dropper post remote is connected to the brake levers via Matchmakers, which ensure a clean look on Santa Cruz’s in-house 800 mm carbon handlebars.
Our 13.7 kg “Cali-Ferrari” rolls on Santa Cruz’s in-house Reserve carbon wheelset and MAXXIS Minion DHR 2 tires, with a soft MaxxGrip rubber compound at the front and slightly harder MaxxTerra at the rear. While Santa Cruz hit the nail on the head with the rubber compound, they could have done better with the casing, because the new 5010 comes with the puncture-prone EXO casing both front and rear, which we’d replace with the slightly more robust MAXXIS EXO+ casing (at least at the rear) to protect the expensive carbon rims.
Santa Cruz 5010 CC X01 AXS RSV 2023
Fork RockShox Pike Ultimate 140 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate 130 mm
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth 175 mm
Brakes SRAM G2 RSC 200/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM X01 AXS 1x12
Stem Burgtec Enduro MK3 42 mm
Handlebar Santa Cruz 35 Carbon Bar 800 mm
Wheelset Reserve 30 HD 29"/27.5"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHR II MaxxGrip EXO/Minion DHR ll MaxxTerra EXO 2.4"/2.4"
Size XS, S M L XL XXL
Weight 13.7 kg
The geometry of the new Santa Cruz 5010 MX 2023
The new Santa Cruz 5010 MX 2023 is available in six sizes, XS to XXL, with reach values ranging between 406 mm and 521 mm with the integrated flip chip in the low setting. Conveniently, Santa Cruz use a short seat tube across all sizes, allowing you to choose the frame size based on your desired reach and riding style.
In the low setting, which is the one we used primarily, our test bike in frame size L combines 476 mm reach and 633 mm stack height. At 64.9°, the head tube angle is in the midfield of our trail bike group test. The chainstays grow with the frame size, providing consistent handling across all sizes – awesome!
The geometry of the Santa Cruz 5010 MX 2023 in the low setting
|Top tube||544 mm||571 mm||599 mm||625 mm||646 mm||674 mm|
|Seat tube||370 mm||380 mm||405 mm||430 mm||460 mm||500 mm|
|Head tube||90 mm||100 mm||115 mm||125 mm||145 mm||160 mm|
|BB Drop||38/19 mm||38/19 mm||38/19 mm||38/19 mm||38/19 mm||38/19 mm|
|Chainstay||429 mm||431 mm||434 mm||437 mm||440 mm||443 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,147 mm||1,178 mm||1,213 mm||1,240 mm||1,271 mm||1,306 mm|
|Reach||406 mm||431 mm||456 mm||476 mm||496 mm||521 mm|
|Stack||601 mm||610 mm||624 mm||633 mm||651 mm||664 mm|
The new Santa Cruz 5010 CC X01 AXS RSV MX 2023 on the trail
Like its predecessor, the new Santa Cruz 5010 MX 2023 was designed to be playful and agile, though the big 29″ front wheel makes it more suitable for your average home trails. With its comfortable and compact pedalling position and pedal-neutral rear suspension, the 5010 allows you to wind your way to the trailhead quickly and easily even without using the lockout lever.
Downhill, the 5010 MX irons out rough terrain with great composure, while the big front wheel gives you enough confidence to roll over pointy roots and ledges. Moreover, it encourages you to move across the whole width of the trail and play with its features, popping off ledges, roots and rocks instead of hunting for yet another Strava Kom. The 5010 strongly maintains the agile and nimble character of its predecessors and makes you feel at ease on the trail. The stiff rear suspension makes it easy to pop into the air and build up speed to pump through berms and rollers.
However, when dropping the anchor on big brake bumps, you realise that you aren’t sitting on a potent enduro bike, with the stiff rear-end frittering away precious braking traction. On top of that, the puncture-prone tire casing requires higher air pressures, which, together with the underpowered G2 brakes, force you to slam on the brakes early, thus limiting the potential of the 5010 somewhat. However, since the bright red trail devil prefers to hang out in the air or to manual down the side of the mountain at mach-10, the problem is only relative.
Our conclusions about the new Santa Cruz 5010 CC X01 AXS RSV MX 2023
The Santa Cruz 5010 CC X01 AXS RSV MX 2023 now features the latest innovations of its bigger siblings and both the clever Glovebox compartment and SAG peephole in the seat tube bring significant advantages. With the new mullet setup, the 5010 emancipates itself from its jib-bike status and delivers tons of fun on flowing singletrack. At the same time, it has become more potent without losing too much of its inherent playful character.
- agile, nimble and playful
- feels as if it has more travel
- clever storage compartment system
- pedal-neutral rear suspension uphill
- brakes and tires don't live up to the potential of the bike
For more info visit Santa Cruz’s website.
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Words: Peter Walker Photos: Max Schumann, Santa Cruz